Asthma and COVID-19 risk: Is it really true? According to experts through recent studies and evidence, it is believed that people with pre-existing condition of asthma are generally not at higher risk of suffering from COVID-19 as compared to others. But before we get into details, it is essential to understand that the pre-existing chronic condition of Asthma it is noteworthy to mention that it is a challenging condition on its own. In this condition the airways (the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs) narrow and swell. This causes reversible obstruction.
Asthma and COVID-19 Risk: Do People with Asthma Really Need to Worry More About Suffering from COVID-19?
The rise of coronavirus has been making people wonder if asthma patients are at higher risk of suffering from COVID-19 or will probably have a worse outcome as COVID-19 is responsible for causing major damage to the lungs as seen in some cases.
The Good News: Asthma patients is they are not at higher risk for contracting the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) because they are more cautious about inhaling poor quality air around them. When it comes to developing COVID-19 symptoms, their immune system can fight the severity of the symptoms if their asthma condition is in check.
Unlike diabetics and people with blood pressure or hypertension people with asthma do not have higher chances of developing acute symptoms. Also existing and running data suggest cases are higher with people with asthma are more than any other condition. But conditions like COPD, obesity and other conditions mentioned earlier could be at a higher risk for developing more severe COVID-19 symptoms than asthma specifically.
How to differentiate between an Asthma Flare up and COVID-19?
COVID-19 affects the lungs and so does asthma. Sometimes, it can be confusing and difficult to identify the actual disease. The very first step towards differentiating between an asthma flare up and COVID-19 is by identifying the symptoms.
Here is a list of symptoms to understand the similarities and differences between COVID-19 and Asthma flare given in the picture below:
If it’s an asthma flare, using an inhaler/pump can relieve the symptoms within sometime. In the case of COVID-19, an inhaler can provide mild improvement but not up to the level of relief one would get if it were asthma.
So, checking rest of the symptoms, along with identifying the common symptoms between both is necessary, which can help ensure if it is COVID-19 or asthma. If there is no improvement in the case of asthma, it is advised to get tested for COVID-19 as early as possible.
What are the precautions to be taken by Asthma patients when it comes to Covid-19?
In general, there is no reason for people specifically with asthma to be more cautious than others. It is essential to keep it in mind that COVID-19 is unpredictable and can infect anyone.
The following guidelines are for not just Asthma patients but everyone:
- Maintain social distancing.
- Wear appropriate masks.
- Sanitize and wash hands with soap at regular intervals.
- Stay at home as much as possible.
- Keep a check on oxygen levels (use oximeter) and temperature.
Wearing masks shouldn’t be a major problem to asthmatics and it should not trigger an attack. Consider wearing a good quality mask and in case there is any suffocation, make sure to keep rest of the symptoms and factors that can cause asthma attacks like cold air, stress etc. in check. Keep asthma in control before wearing a mask or meeting other people.
Why and How to Keep Your Asthma in Control
It is important to keep asthma under control especially during the pandemic as that would allow the lungs to be best prepared even when infected with COVID-19. If your lungs are affected due to asthma and you the condition is not kept in check, it may cause severe symptoms and dire health issues.
Know your asthma triggers and avoid them, here are some steps to follow:
- Keep your house clean and avoid allergies.
- Take your asthma medication as prescribed by your doctor on time.
- Learn how to use your inhaler properly.
- Quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke.
- Exercise regularly
- Follow a healthy diet.
- Build your immunity.
- Avoid getting sick.
If you’re still using your rescue inhaler often, or you’re coughing or wheezing, they are signs that your asthma isn’t under control and you need to talk with your doctor. They can determine if you need a change in your current asthma treatment plan.
The bottom line
Based on what we know so far, we can conclude that people with asthma do not need to worry more than others about suffering from COVID-19. But they should be practicing the safety measures just like others. It is important to realize that COVID-19 can happen to anyone and with any outcome no matter what the pre-existing conditions are. So, we all need to strictly follow the guidelines. Keeping asthma in control can be very helpful for keeping the lung condition running well.
Get vaccinated, take the precautions and do not worry. Together, we can beat the virus!